Former military police officer Al White says he watched barrels of Agent Orange being buried at CFB Gagetown in 1985.
It is a 33-year-old mystery that has gnawed at retired sergeant Al White's conscience.
The now-former military police officer told CBC News that, before sunrise on a clear morning in the late spring of 1985, he was ordered to escort a Department of National Defence flatbed truck along an empty road at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick. The journey took just minutes and ended in shadows just off the road, where an excavator had dug a wide, fresh pit in the spongy soil.
On the flatbed were over 40 full or semi-full barrels in various conditions. Some were solid, others were dented, rusted or in various states of decay. Almost all of them were wrapped with an orange stripe.
"At the time, I didn't think much of it," White told CBC News. "I just did the task and it wasn't until some time later that it really, really hit home to me."
Very few words were exchanged between White, the truck driver and the operator of the excavator. The barrels were dumped into the pit and covered over.
What Al White said he witnessed that morning three decades back was the burial of leftover Agent Orange, the notorious chemical defoliant linked to various types of cancer that was used in secret spraying experiments by the U.S. at the Gagetown military base in New Brunswick — something which would blow up into a major public policy issue 20 years later.